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June 23, 2006

Friday Recap 06/23/2006

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The folks at Hammer Of Truth have outed Ask as having “a blatantly stupid filtering engine” (geez…) because it blocks even innocuous searches that deal with children and sex (like sex of child or talking to your children about sex). Any query that contains the words “child” and “sex” or “kids” and “sex” brings up a message from Ask directing users to its TOS instead of actual results.

Is Ask’s engine a little too strict? Probably. Censoring words of any kind is a slippery slope, and not allowing users to search for educational information on sensitive topics will just send them to a different engine.

However, I do kind of like that searching for certain terms (sex [with no mention of children], rape, abuse, etc.) brings up education resources instead of the explicit content likely to be found on other engines. In fact, if a user searches for the term “sex”, Ask allows you to Narrow or Expand You Search for topics like “child sex education”, “where do babies come from”, “sex education for teens” and others. The information is out there, it’s all in the wording.

Coincidently, the Long Island politician who brought a suit against Google for profiting from child pornography has dropped his case after Google offered to sit down and resolve the issue with him. That’s good to hear.
Michael Arrington gives us a sneak preview of what Digg will look like Monday morning. The new and improved Digg site will include six new topic categories, allow users to see items their friends “dugg”, and will feature just enough Ajax that users won’t have to refresh when switching between headlines and new stories. Sounds good. Jason Calacanis should have waited before re-releasing Netscape. He may have learned something.

Nart Villeneuve discovered that Tom Online, Skype’s Chinese client, automatically installs censorware on users’ computers without telling them and uses it to filter conversations. Once a user downloads Tom-Skype, an executable file called ContentFilter.exe is also placed on their computer. The program then installs a “keyfile” into their system designed to censor whatever words Tom Online employees plug into it. This keyfile cannot be erased even if a user tries to uninstall the Tom-Skype software. Nart has screenshots over on her blog. Some seriously scary stuff, or as I like to call it, SSSS.

The Google AdSense blog now answers users’ questions in the form of short videos. Clever, I say. Now if they could just get their Google rep to seem a little less bored and a lot more like she’s not reading her answers off a teleprompter. It’s kind of ruining the warm and fuzzy feel.

Google Video is running a new feature called Free Today, which allows users to watch select premium videos for free as Google tests its new content sponsorship program. For a limited time, users can watch videos that would normally cost them between $.99 and $14.99 for free in return for watching an ad at the end. I like this for one reason: Felix!

Friday, June 30th is being harked as the day the spam will end. Why? Because that’s when Matt Cutts will reportedly be back from his extended vacation. In case you’re interested in tracking Matt by the hour, Thomas Bindl created the Matt Cutts’ Vacation Countdownbeta. Cuttlets do tend to get a little crazy, don’t they?

[In true Cuttlet spirit, I remind you there are only five days to get me this before my birthday on Wednesday. Your cooperation in this matter is much appreciated. Thank you.]

An article in Pacific Epoch claims Google expects to have over 1,000 employees in Google China by 2007. Guess they’re not pulling out, huh. We expect the rest of the world to be working for Google by 2009.

Phil Lenssen put his art skills to work this week with his If Websites Were Remote Controls post. I’m especially fond of the MySpace remote, but I don’t think the Google one is accurate. Would Google really ever feature an “off” button? Not likely.

One of the greatest things about children’s books is there is always a good lesson inside. In order to prepare your young ones for the digital age, Matthew Baldwin gave us his cautionary tale, Files Are Not For Sharing. Don’t let your kids hear about this on the streets. If you talk, they’ll listen.

Or in case you’re just looking for a baby, Barry Schwartz found some cheap ones being sold on eBay. Get ’em while they’re hot!

If you haven’t had a good cry lately (admit it, sometimes it helps), you may want to head over to Kim Krause’s blog and read Why Are Baseball Pants Inside the Freezer? If that doesn’t get you all choked up, pull the plug, man, you’re already dead inside.

Kim’s forum is also running a fun thread entitled You Know You’ve Been In SEO Too Long When. The more giggle-worthy responses include:

  • Someone found something and you ask “on which data center?”
  • You actually use SERP in a conversation.
  • When your first action on the website of a business partner is “view source”.
  • You find yourself attempting to highlight text “just to make sure it isn’t an image”.
  • “Big Daddy” means anything to you but the band, movie or expression.
  • You can tell Larry and Sergey apart.
  • You read through a magazine and are unable to find an article, and you begin looking for ctrl + f keys in the magazine

If you ask me, someone needs to figure out how to implement that last one. It would also be especially helpful while grocery shopping. I’m just throwing it out there.

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